Psychosocial characteristics and social networks of suicidal prisoners: towards a model of suicidal behaviour in detention.
Rivlin A., Hawton K., Marzano L., Fazel S.
Prisoners are at increased risk of suicide. Investigation of both individual and environmental risk factors may assist in developing suicide prevention policies for prisoners and other high-risk populations. We conducted a matched case-control interview study with 60 male prisoners who had made near-lethal suicide attempts in prison (cases) and 60 male prisoners who had not (controls). We compared levels of depression, hopelessness, self-esteem, impulsivity, aggression, hostility, childhood abuse, life events (including events occurring in prison), social support, and social networks in univariate and multivariate models. A range of psychosocial factors was associated with near-lethal self-harm in prisoners. Compared with controls, cases reported higher levels of depression, hopelessness, impulsivity, and aggression, and lower levels of self-esteem and social support (all p values <0.001). Adverse life events and criminal history factors were also associated with near-lethal self-harm, especially having a prior prison spell and having been bullied in prison, both of which remained significant in multivariate analyses. The findings support a model of suicidal behaviour in prisoners that incorporates imported vulnerability factors, clinical factors, and prison experiences, and underscores their interaction. Strategies to reduce self-harm and suicide in prisoners should include attention to such factors.